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Interview Foam Talent Call: Alejandro Cartagena

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Interview Foam Talent Call: Alejandro Cartagena

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Alejandro Cartagena. I was born in the Dominican Republic but I currently live in Monterrey, Mexico. For my Bachelor, I studed Leisure Management and then continued to complete a Master in Visual Arts. I enjoy skateboarding, watching TV, photobooks and spending time with my baby, Fausto, and my wife.

What inspired you to pick up a camera and take photographs?

At first, it was just fun. I was looking for something to do that was not being at the front desk of a hotel. I eventually started taking photography workshops, which led me to change carriers. I was 27 and felt an urge to learn and do as much as I could as fast I could.

How did you find out about the Foam Talent Call last year?

Through friends and photography blogs.

What (technical) gear do you use?

I use several cameras. A Canon 5D, a 4x5 Sinar and lately I have been shooting a lot with a Mamiya RB67. I digitize most of the negatives at home and then have a master printer that does my editions on a Hanemulhe photorag pearl paper. I love how it feels like fiber paper but made with digital technology.

Do you have other interests besides photography?

I really enjoy music. I love to listen to a band over and over again until I feel that I have heard all the small things they wanted us to hear. I have been listening to The Police for the past 2 months and just can't stop! I also try to relate to the form in music and look at how it relates to the visual in its abstractness. I completed 2 years of a music major programme at my university. It was amazing but I realized I was just a good listener but could never play, so I stopped.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I am a ferocious consumer of the Internet. I surf the web a lot and find many interesting things that get me thinking. My past and present also inspire me, for example, things that make me angry about my culture. I haven't been reading much lately - Fausto (my son) is just 3 months old and I want to spend as much time with him as I can - but I really enjoy reading books on urbanism, the city, and history. I think I am still processing all the reading I did in during my Master programme. I find myself producing work that's very much inspired by the things I learned and discussed during that time.

Who is your favourite photographer or artist?

I don't see it that way. I like many works from different artists. I am always looking for something to rattle my head with ideas.

Have you been working on any new projects this year that you want would like to share with us?

I continue to produce work for the series, Car poolers, and have started a long-term project on peoples' need to protect their habitats. I have shot in Italy, Spain and Mexico. Hopefully this year I will do more work for that project in Latin America.

What did the Foam Talent Call do for your career as a photographer?

On a very personal level it made me feel that I had accomplished an evolution professionally. It is a definite confidence boost. In terms of exposure it has brought in many emails for online publications as well as publications in several European magazines.

Do you have any tips for the young photographers out there that want to submit their work to the Foam Talent Call?

I guess I would suggest being thorough with the images you plan to submit. You need to make sure that your images make sense almost immediately, if possible, as the context is a competition and there is much to be seen. Be concise and try not to rely on words for the images to be understood; make the sequence unfold towards something clear.

Elisa Medde

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